Letters to the editor
FTS 2001 Revealed
This letter is in reference to "Draft GAO report skewers FTS 2001" [FCW,
March 12]. I applaud the General Accounting Office for conducting this study
and hope it reaches the proper attention when it is completed.
I am one of last year's "career retirees" from federal service, but
I have maintained an interest in FCW articles and issues. During the past
decade, I was responsible for agency telecommunications (FTS, FTS 2000,
FTS 2001) at the Environmental Protection Agency.
In my new life as a chief executive officer of a "dot-com start-up,"
my increased focus as a "taxpayer" results in the need to comment on a few
aspects of FTS 2001 that seem to be known by many agency telecom people
but not well covered in the press:
1. Although the total life- cycle costs of FTS 2001 could be lower than
FTS 2000 when integrated over 10 years, the first 24 to 30 months of the
FTS 2001 contract represented significant cost increases over FTS 2000 for
many mixes of agency requirements.
Agencies discovered they could do better either by keeping the old contract
terms (even under the "extensions" indicated in the article) or by using
other "creative approaches and contracts" to preserve the old lower cost
structure that AT&T, at least, was happy to provide.
2. The General
Services Administration's ability to "beat up" vendors for providing poor
transition teams and schedules as well as bad network performance is far
reduced under FTS 2001 in comparison to FTS 2000 and especially in comparison
to contemporary contracts enjoyed by other sectors.
3. There is no mechanism within FTS 2001 for the government to specify,
measure and extract specific service levels of performance and reliability
for frame relay and Asynchronous Transfer Mode networks.
This is a critical flaw in an environment where enterprise networks
are under increasing pressure to move from "private" to "public cloud" services.
In the commercial sector, when a frame relay or ATM "cloud" fails to meet
specific customer-measured performance levels, the vendor immediately "feels
the pain" and fixes the problemprobably at the expense of customers without
such contractual tools (wonder who?).
Throughout the initial period of the FTS 2001 contract, your magazine
(and others) presented a generally one-sided view of the transitionessentially,
"Anyone not making the transition immediately was lazy and was wasting federal
This view was assisted by comments from various consultants and contractors,
many of whom have an interest in the transition itself.
Most "minority" views, as presented by agency telecom people, were promptly
rebutted by vendor public relations people as being minor and untrue. We
saw no efforts on the part of the press to uncover some of the minority
I am proud to have been associated with agencies that did not rush into
a risky conversion crisis where waste and bad service would have been the
These agencies continue to phase in their conversions prudently, analyzing
the costs and the risks as they goas any commercial network managers
would. I'm happy we waited!
Chief executive officer
Network Development Group Inc.
Research Triangle Park, N.C.